Postseason Rosters Talk

Spoiler - Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Without being too presumptuous, it’s time to look at how the postseason roster should shape up.

The latest postseason probabilities page update at MLB.com shows the A's at 99.4% chance to take the AL West for a second consecutive year, and a nearly 100% chance to make the playoffs in general.

(Jonah Hill fist pump)

Despite the drubbing last night, the A's are still firmly in control of the division, with their Magic Number at 7. Even if they fell to the wild card spot, they need to set a roster. How might that look?

Pitchers

Starters

First, let's decide on a rotation. No easy task! To review, here are the candidates:

Starter

ERA-

FIP-

Jarrod Parker

98

109

Bartolo Colon

70

84

Sonny Gray

67

61

Dan Straily

106

108

A.J. Griffin

98

118

Tommy Milone

108

114

Remember that the losers of the rotation spot can go to the bullpen, if necessary. Brett Anderson is a theoretical possibility at this point, but is very likely to end up in the bullpen.

In some ways, trying to set a postseason rotation based on projection stats like FIP is hard. Playoffs are a small sample no matter what you do, and to some extent, the team cares more about their likelihood to not give up runs no matter how they do it. In other words, with Straily having relative concordance between his ERA and FIP, it's likely that for his remaining starts, he is likely to be around that performance. With Griffin having some ability or luck to keep his ERA nearer to league average, there is a slightly better chance that despite his sometimes homer-happy ways, he turns in a performance that allows fewer runs.

Given that, my picks would be for the four guys with the lowest ERA-: Parker, Colon, Gray, and Griffin. Anderson would be the go-to guy in the bullpen if one of them got in serious trouble.

Relievers

Again, here are the candidates:

Grant Balfour

Sean Doolittle

Ryan Cook

Dan Otero

Jerry Blevins

Pat Neshek

Jesse Chavez

Brett Anderson

Evan Scribner

Tommy Milone

Dan Straily

I think we can all agree that despite their seeming inability to all be consistent at the same time, Doolittle, Balfour, and Cook remain the A-team relievers. The B team is a little harder to quantify. Again, in a postseason series, I'm not sure I want to rely on predictive stats so much; I just care that they get outs and keep the ball in the yard. So, let's rank the remaining relievers by BB/9 and HR/9:

Reliever

BB/9

HR/9

Dan Otero

1.30

0.00

Jerry Blevins

2.80

1.15

Pat Neshek

3.18

1.36

Jesse Chavez

3.29

0.52

Brett Anderson

4.58

0.92

Evan Scribner

2.55

1.09

Tommy Milone

2.30

1.45

Dan Straily

3.37

1.03

So, there is definitely one obvious candidate in Otero. He is in, and has picked up the slack in the second half of the season where Blevins has fallen off. Of the others, though, it starts to split hairs: Blevins allows too many HRs for my liking, but he is also a lefty. Anderson has had control issues, and in general, has not appeared to have adjusted to the bullpen role entirely just yet. Chavez has kept the ball in the park, but also is prone to walks. Neshek allows too many walks AND home runs, but his wOBA against RHB is still .286, .100 less than vs. LHB, which could be useful against potential RH power bats (ahem, Cabrera, ahem) Scribner has middle of the pack stats, but again, going to back to small samples, I don't believe in his stuff over someone like Anderson.

In comparing the two starters, Straily and Milone, Straily allows far too many walks for my liking over someone like Scribner, who is already used to pitching out of the bullpen. The comparison between Milone and Blevins is interesting, though. In facing lefties, Blevins has a 1.95 HR/9, whereas Milone's is 1.16. On the other hand, Milone's 3.29 BB/9 vs. LHB is troubling, as is Blevins' 3.12 BB/9 (if you add in his 3 HBP to the walks). But Blevins is also more of a strikeout pitcher, relatively, than Milione.

Given that, the remaining 4 bullpen spots should go to Blevins, Chavez, Anderson, and Neshek. Scribner and Milone have simply been too inconsistent this year to merit a spot, but are decent options should someone need to be replaced, with preference to Milone.

Hitters

This is actually pretty simple, as the recent callups are more to allow the regulars to have some rest rather than being starter candidates. Catcher is the one position where it could get interesting.

Lineup

Crisp CF

Lowrie SS

Donaldson 3B

Moss 1B

Cespedes LF

Reddick RF

Sogard 2B

Smith DH

Vogt C

Bench

Callaspo

Suzuki

Freiman

Young

Norris

Catcher is hard. Between the three active catchers, Suzuki is clearly the best defensive receiver. But... that bat... yikes! Vogt, on the other hand, has hit well and throws well, but his receiving skills are not on par with either Suzuki or Norris. Norris is average at both, and hits lefties well.

On the other hand, given the probable matchup with Detroit's all right-handed rotation, having Norris around is only for Phil Coke or Drew Smyly coming out of the bullpen. What's more, I think the A's made a critical mistake last year in leaving both Gomes and Carter on the roster where Detroit is so heavily right-handed in their staff. Given the above, leaving Norris off the roster is tough but Suzuki's defensive edge at blocking balls in the dirt will come into play in the late innings. Indeed, I would like to see the defensive switch that the A's have been doing recently when Balfour comes in become standard earlier, perhaps in the seventh inning and later.

What do you think the postseason roster should be? Explain yourself in the comments below.

The A's will attempt to start a new winning streak against Garrett Richards and the Angels tomorrow. Sonny Gray gets the assignment of stopping the Angels suddenly red-hot offense. It's going to be really funny when the Angels make it to .500 then realize that they could have used a higher draft pick.

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